President Obama once again is facing criticism for planning to skip the funeral of a prominent conservative figure, with the president expected to attend a festival over the services Friday for former first lady Nancy Reagan.
Michelle Obama plans to attend the funeral in Simi Valley, California, but the president will instead be in Austin, Texas, for the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, a popular interactive mash-up of music, tech and film.
Obama is set to deliver a keynote speech.
Obama’s decision immediately drew fire from some conservatives, with former 2012 Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann calling the move “self-centered” and “classless.”
The controversy comes after Obama chose not to attend the funeral of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in February – a move that was heavily criticized by many on the right.
KT McFarland, former Defense official in the Reagan administration and a Fox News national security analyst, knocked Obama on Twitter for skipping the funerals of Nancy Reagan, Scalia and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
“That’s petty, petulant & lowclass,” she wrote.
Democratic presidential candidate and former first lady Hillary Clinton, as well as former President George W. Bush, plan to attend.
Obama, though, hardly is setting a precedent by missing the funeral of a former first lady.
The Clintons did not attend the funeral of Pat Nixon in 1993. In 2007, President George W. Bush did not attend the funeral of Lady Bird Johnson, though he had no scheduled events that day.
And in 2011, Obama did not attend the funeral of former first lady Betty Ford.
President Carter also did not attend the funeral of Mamie Eisenhower in 1979, while President Reagan did not attend the funeral of Bess Truman in 1982.
But presidents have attended such services in other cases.
President John F. Kennedy attended the funeral of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s widow, Eleanor Roosevelt, in 1962. When Jacquelyn Kennedy died in 1994, President Bill Clinton and then-first lady Hillary Clinton attended.
The Obamas still paid tribute to Mrs. Reagan on Monday, saying she had “redefined the role” of first lady and praising her advocacy for those suffering from Alzheimer’s.